converts coal plant to biomass
DTE Energy Services (DTEES), headquartered
in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is acquiring a significant interest in
the 49.5-megawatt Mt. Poso cogeneration company power plant near
Bakersfield, California. DTEES will operate the plant and co-lead
its conversion to operate on 100 percent biomass fuel, primarily
wood fuel derived from urban wood waste, tree trimmings and agricultural
One of Mt. Poso’s three current partners, MacPherson Oil, will
continue to have an ownership and management interest.
The other two partners, Northern Star Generation and Red Hawk
Energy, are selling their interest. Red Hawk Energy has been
instrumental in developing the biomass conversion project.
DTEES has completed a similar biomass conversion in Cassville,
Wisconsin and has another under way in Stockton, California.
The company also operates biomass power plants in Woodland, California
and Mobile, Alabama.
The Mt. Poso plant began operation in 1989 and it employs the
best available control technologies to minimize air emissions,
uses no potable water (water supply comes from the Mt. Poso oil
field), and maintains zero discharge of solid and liquid wastes.
The plant currently operates on a blend of coal, petroleum coke
and tire-derived fuel. Operating on biomass fuel, the plant will
produce about 44 megawatts of power, enough to supply the electricity
needs of about 35,000 homes.
Following the conversion, the plant will provide power to PG&E
under a long-term renewable power purchase agreement. The plant
will help PG&E meet California’s 33-percent renewable power
Conversion of the facility to burn renewable biomass is under
way and is expected to be complete in 2012.
The conversion will employ approximately 90 construction workers
at peak. Permanent employment at the plant will increase from
28 to 38 when the conversion is complete.